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Breaking above the noise: How to turn Gen Z into an asset for your organization

Growing up in a world surrounded by organizations vying for our attention, many organizations and nonprofits seem to blend together for Gen Z. How can your organization break through all the noise and turn Gen Z into an asset for your cause?

Gen Z is a very socially conscious generation. As a group, we truly have an aspiration to change the world. And we are also one of the busiest generations in history. That combination has led to competition between non-profit organizations, especially those targeting youth, like never before.

Understand We Have Other Obligations

As referenced, Gen Z is likely the most preoccupied group of kids, the world has seen. We have sports practices, jobs, rehearsals, volunteering, etc., but only after we spend a few hours on homework each night. Because of this, successful organizations find a way to fit into our hectic lives in a way we appreciate.

The global Membership health matrix

Let's take the pulse of how members think of different association practices. You can use the insights to stop declining memberships and engage existing members better.

Understand what Drives Us

Gen Z is driven by competition. This is why organizations that roll out contests and prizes generally have higher Gen Z engagement levels. For example, Junior Achievement is an organization that has taken advantage of this trait by hosting entrepreneurial start-up contests and giving meaningful (keyword: meaningful) awards to those who have excelled in their respective contests.

Another excellent example of this is the YMCA’s Youth in Government program, which gives youth an opportunity to participate in a government simulator.

Understand Our Motives and How Your Organization Can Satisfy Our Needs

Another reason some organizations are unsuccessful in engaging Gen Z is that they fail to understand our motives for participating. For example, many people participating in YMCA’s Youth in Government do so because it looks good on a college application. Others do it to make friends or because they truly are interested in politics. Whatever the reason, understanding Gen Z needs and making necessary adjustments will be richly rewarded with our engagement.

Connect Yourself to the Bigger Picture

Unless Gen Zers see a real purpose to an organization, they will not willingly engage. Now more than ever, organizations need to shift their focus to less theoretical and more practical. For example, Junior Achievement empowers its youth to launch real businesses.

Gina Blayney, CEO of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, “It’s fun and exciting for us at Junior Achievement to work with Generation Z; these young people embrace all cultures and backgrounds, and they are excited to learn and make a difference in the world.”

This model works because the participants feel like they have skin in the game and that their work matters. On the other hand, DECA, another business club, is much more theoretical. This could harm student engagement. While it develops business skills, there doesn’t seem to be a real-world purpose or impact.

Offer Something Unique

Gen Z is surrounded by so many options and opportunities to choose from. This forces organizations that want to survive to create unique and meaningful experiences. For example, WE Day is an event that brings thousands of Gen Zers together for a day of motivation and inspiration. It is unique, and it is something young people all over the world want to be affiliated with.

“Give Gen Z a problem to solve, engage them in learning, and invest in opportunities where they can apply their skills to discover their talents. They are savvy consumers of technology, but we know they also want to engage with people on a personal level,” said Blayney.

We have assembled many tools to assist your organization.

Evolution of Organizations

We are witnessing the evolution of organizations. The entire nonprofit world is undergoing a natural selection, and only organizations with solid values genuinely making an impact will survive. Make sure your organization is on the right side of that line.

Download our white paper on Generation Z, Ready or Not, Here Comes Z, for key findings from our global survey, further analysis on what shaped this generation, and the six characteristics that define their different strengths, values, and attitudes.


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